The Global Maritime Mental Health Promotion Program

Olaf Jensen, MLuisa Canals, Debbie Andrioti
2017 International Journal of Community & Family Medicine  
The nautical employees face more difficult working conditions in the sea than other employees. The mental health is affected by the living conditions and long working hours that can contribute to stress, anxiety, loneliness, that again can lead to depression and suicide. The aims are to improve the seafarers' mental health by introducing a comprehensive, evidence-based global maritime mental health promotion. Further to attract the youngest seafarers to choose seafaring as their carrier and to
more » ... eir carrier and to stay for years in the job. Methods: The theories on empowerment, life-long-and problem oriented learning with inclusion of all stakeholders form the theoretical background are applied. A joint action is established among the unions, the ship owners, the maritime authorities and a network of the universities´ research centres in suicide prevention, public health and maritime health departments. Results: A: Review studies on the prevalence of depression, quality of life, social isolation, loneliness and associated risk factors; B: Dynamic cohort studies of students from maritime academies with baseline questionnaires and follow-up after experience gained at sea and then every 5 years; C: Analysis of the etiological indicators for the drop-out rates of the students and trained seafarers; D: The training methods the maritime students, seafarers and personnel in the shipping companies in groups with problem solving and life-long learning; E: Organising the students into small groups that stay in contact while at sea and at home; F: Training the students to assist each other in difficult situations on-board and onshore; G: Giving mental health care training through classes, online courses, information materials and the obligatory health examinations. Conclusions: Empowerment of the youngest seafarers through a multi-phased life-long-and problem oriented learning is supposed to be effective to improve the quality of life at sea. Political and international guidelines are needed to minimise those risk factors that are not cost-effective immediately. but also for fellow employees and the industry. Neuropsychiatric conditions represent the second highest disease burden in DALYS on populations' health globally; among seafarers, depression and suicide rates are higher than the general population. (Roberts) In 2012, Iversen reported that from1960-2009 among 17,026 seafarers' deaths, 1,011 seafarers died as a result of suicide (5.9%), which is more than three times higher than the respective suicide rates of the most western countries. Their findings also indicate that seafarers are 2.5 times more likely to commit suicide [6, 1, 7] . A 2015 survey by ITF highlighted seafarers' perceived physical and mental health. According to this, more than half of the sample showed signs of anxiety and depression and the main causes identified were loneliness, long separation from home and family, unreliable contracts and long working hours (ITF 2015). The research questions focus on the youngest seafarers´ knowledge, competencies, their needs for training and improvement of quality life on board to prevent mental health illness and suicide. The project objectives are to improve the seafarers' mental health by planning and implementing a comprehensive, evidence-based global maritime mental health promotion program that attracts the youngest seafarers and make them stay in the job for many years.
doi:10.15344/2456-3498/2017/134 fatcat:qz2ofkeepjet3asigq2x6g7iau